Autism BrainNet (ABN), funded by SFARI, is a collaborative network for the acquisition and distribution of postmortem brain tissue for research in autism and related neurodevelopmental disorders. ABN works in a family- and community-sensitive manner to promote awareness of brain tissue research and to increase both the quality and the number of brain donations.
ABN is composed of four regional collections sites associated with academic centers (nodes) in the United States and two international affiliates led by the ABN scientific director in close collaboration with SFARI. The nodes are responsible for brain and tissue acquisition, preparation and distribution to qualified approved researchers. Awareness efforts are coordinated and led by the ABN Outreach Manager in collaboration with the nodes and partnering organizations.
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is heterogeneous in causation and behavioral and medical characteristics and affects 1 in 59 children in the United States. While vast progress has been made in the understanding of the underlying genetic basis of ASD, less is known about the alterations that affect brain development. Currently, the number of high-quality postmortem brain samples is not adequate to enable new discoveries in autism research and to replicate important findings. The goal of Autism BrainNet is to provide qualified researchers with an essential resource to better understand the causes of ASD and develop treatments that can improve the quality of life of individuals with autism and their families.
The Outreach Specialist reports to the Outreach Manager and works closely and in coordination with the ABN clinical director and other Autism BrainNet's staff to increase the number of postmortem brain donations and raise awareness of the program and its mission. The Outreach Specialist is responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with and providing professional education to state and county medical examiners, coroners, organ procurement organizations, tissue banks, pathology department autopsy services and other relevant medical and law enforcement personnel to improve referral systems and maximize brain donation for autism research.
Actively seeks out and builds relationships with medical examiner offices (MEs), coroners, organ procurement organizations (OPOs), tissue banks and pathology departments in children's hospitals and health systems or hospital liaisons, who have initial contact with next of kin.
Identifies and maintains contact with point persons at MEs offices, OPOs, tissue banks and hospitals to identify potential cases and refer directly to Autism BrainNet.
Engages in consistent and regular communication to sustain motivation with potential collaborators via phone, email and in-person visits.
Travels to regional and national professional events for outreach and engagement opportunities.
This position requires frequent in-person and virtual meetings, needing 30-50% travel.
Bachelor's degree in life sciences, public health, or related field.
Master's or a higher degree in a relevant field is preferred.
5+ years of prior relevant work experience
Understands the utility of biomedical research to better understanding the biological basis of autism and to develop potential diagnostics and treatments.
Experience with and knowledge of organ donation, previous interactions with medical examiners and coroners' offices and tissue banking preferred.
Previous experience as a medical examiner or as a professional at a tissue bank or organ procurement organization preferred.
Related Skills & Other Requirements
Excellent interpersonal skills with all levels of the organization and external communities
Excellent verbal and written communication skills
Comfort working independently but also works well as part of the team
Adheres to and maintains confidentiality of all donors, recipients and organization information.
Consistently punctual and dependable
Actively participates in performance improvement activities
Demonstrates accuracy and thoroughness while meeting productivity standards
Strong administrative and organizational skills with attention to detail and ability to balance and prioritize workload under deadlines and multiple commitments
Strong computer skills, particularly with Google and Microsoft products.
The Simons Foundation's Diversity Commitment
Many of the greatest ideas and discoveries come from a diverse mix of minds, backgrounds and experiences, and we are committed to cultivating an inclusive work environment. The Simons Foundation provides equal opportunities to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, religion, color, age, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic disposition, neurodiversity, disability, veteran status or any other protected category under federal, state and local law.